§ 8.01-257. Venue generally.
It is the intent of this chapter that every action shall be commenced and tried in a forum convenient to the parties and witnesses, where justice can be administered without prejudice or delay. Except where specifically provided otherwise, whenever the word “action(s)” is used in this chapter, it shall mean all actions at law, suits in equity, and statutory proceedings, whether in circuit courts or district courts.
§ 8.01-258. Venue not jurisdictional.
The provisions of this chapter relate to venue – the place of trial – and are not jurisdictional. No order, judgment, or decree shall be voidable, avoided, or subject to collateral attack solely on the ground that there was improper venue; however, nothing herein shall affect the right to appeal an error of court concerning venue.
§ 8.01-259. Application.
Nothing in this chapter shall apply to venue in the following proceedings:
(1), (2) [Repealed.]
(3) Habeas corpus;
(4) Tax proceedings, other than those in Title 58.1;
(5) Juvenile and domestic relations district courts proceedings concerning children; or
In all other actions, venue shall be in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, and, with respect to such actions, in case of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and other provisions outside this chapter relating to venue, all such other provisions are hereby superseded.
§ 8.01-260. Proper venue; preferred forum in certain actions; permissible forums for other actions.
Except for those actions expressly excluded from the operation of this chapter, and subject to the provisions of §§ 8.01-264 and 8.01-265, the venue for any action shall be deemed proper only if laid in accordance with the provisions of §§ 8.01-261 and 8.01-262.
§ 8.01-261. Category A or preferred venue.
In the actions listed in this section, the forums enumerated shall be deemed preferred places of venue and may be referred to as “Category A” in this title. Venue laid in any other forum shall be subject to objection; however, if more than one preferred place of venue applies, any such place shall be a proper forum. The following forums are designated as places of preferred venue for the action specified:
1. In actions for review of, appeal from, or enforcement of state administrative regulations, decisions, or other orders:
a. If the moving or aggrieved party is other than the Commonwealth or an agency thereof, then the county or city wherein such party:
(2) Regularly or systematically conducts affairs or business activity; or
(3) Wherein such party’s property affected by the administrative action is located.
b. If the moving or aggrieved party is the Commonwealth or an agency thereof, then the county or city wherein the respondent or a party defendant:
(2) Regularly or systematically conducts affairs or business activity; or
(3) Has any property affected by the administrative action.
c. If subdivisions 1 a and 1 b do not apply, then the county or city wherein the alleged violation of the administrative regulation, decision, or other order occurred.
2. Except as provided in subdivision 1 of this section, where the action is against one or more officers of the Commonwealth in an official capacity, the county or city where any such person has his official office.
3. The county or city wherein the subject land, or a part thereof, is situated in the following actions:
a. To recover or partition land;
b. To subject land to a debt;
c. To sell, lease, or encumber the land of persons under disabilities;
e. To sell wastelands;
f. To establish boundaries;
g. For unlawful entry or detainer;
h. For ejectment; or
i. To remove clouds on title.
5. In actions for writs of mandamus, prohibition, or certiorari, except such as may be issued by the Supreme Court, the county or city wherein is the record or proceeding to which the writ relates.
6. In actions on bonds required for public contract, the county or city in which the public project, or any part thereof, is situated.
7. In actions to impeach or establish a will, the county or city wherein the will was probated, or, if not probated at the time of the action, where the will may be properly offered for probate.
8., 9. [Repealed.]
10. In actions on any contract between a transportation district and a component government, any county or city any part of which is within such transportation district.
11. In attachments,
a. With reference to the principal defendant and those liable with or to him, venue shall be determined as if the principal defendant were the sole defendant; or
b. In the county or city in which the principal defendant has estate or has debts owing to him.
13. a. In any action for the collection of state, county, or municipal taxes, any one of the following counties or cities shall be deemed preferred places of venue:
(1) Wherein the taxpayer resides;
(2) Wherein the taxpayer owns real or personal property;
(3) Wherein the taxpayer has a registered office, or regularly or systematically conducts business; or
(4) In case of withdrawal from the Commonwealth by a delinquent taxpayer, wherein venue was proper at the time the taxes in question were assessed or at the time of such withdrawal.
b. In any action for the correction of an erroneous assessment of state taxes and tax refunds, any one of the following counties or cities shall be deemed preferred places of venue:
(1) Wherein the taxpayer resides;
(2) Wherein the taxpayer has a registered office or regularly or systematically conducts business;
(3) Wherein the taxpayer’s real or personal property involved in such a proceeding is located; or
(4) The Circuit Court of the City of Richmond.
14. In proceedings by writ of quo warranto:
a. The city or county wherein any of the defendants reside;
b. If the defendant is a corporation, the city or county where its registered office is or where its mayor, rector, president, or other chief officer resides; or
c. If there is no officer or none of the defendants reside in the Commonwealth, venue shall be in the City of Richmond.
15. In proceedings to award an injunction:
a. To any judgment or judicial proceeding of a circuit court, venue shall be in the court in the county or city in which the judgment was rendered or such proceeding is pending;
b. To any judgment or judicial proceeding of a district court, venue shall be in the circuit court of the county or city in which the judgment was rendered or such proceeding is pending; or
c. To any other act or proceeding, venue shall be in the circuit court of the county or city in which the act is to be done, or being done, or is apprehended to be done or the proceeding is pending.
17. In disbarment or suspension proceedings against any attorney-at-law, in the county or city where the defendant:
b. Has his principal office or place of practice when the proceeding is commenced;
c. Resided or had such principal office or place of practice when any misconduct complained of occurred; or
d. Has any pending case as to which any misconduct took place.
18. In actions under the Virginia Tort Claims Act, Article 18.1 (§ 8.01-195.1 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of this title:
a. The county or city where the claimant resides;
b. The county or city where the act or omission complained of occurred; or
c. If the claimant resides outside the Commonwealth and the act or omission complained of occurred outside the Commonwealth, the City of Richmond.
19. In suits for annulment, affirmance, or divorce, the county or city in which the parties last cohabited, or at the option of the plaintiff, in the county or city in which the defendant resides, if a resident of this Commonwealth, and in cases in which an order of publication may be issued against the defendant under § 8.01-316, venue may also be in the county or city in which the plaintiff resides.
20. In distress actions, in the county or city when the premises yielding the rent, or some part thereof, may be or where goods liable to distress may be found.
§ 8.01-262. Category B or permissible venue.
In any actions to which this chapter applies except those actions enumerated in Category A where preferred venue is specified, one or more of the following counties or cities shall be permissible forums, such forums being sometimes referred to as “Category B” in this title:
1. Wherein the defendant resides or has his principal place of employment or, if the defendant is a corporation, wherein its mayor, rector, president or other chief officer resides;
2. Wherein the defendant has a registered office, has appointed an agent to receive process, or such agent has been appointed by operation of the law; or, in case of withdrawal from this Commonwealth by such defendant, wherein venue herein was proper at the time of such withdrawal;
3. Wherein the defendant regularly conducts substantial business activity, or in the case of withdrawal from this Commonwealth by such defendant, wherein venue herein was proper at the time of such withdrawal;
4. Wherein the cause of action, or any part thereof, arose;
5. In actions to recover or partition personal property, whether tangible or intangible, the county or city:
(a) Wherein such property is physically located; or
(b) Wherein the evidence of such property is located;
(c) And if subdivisions 5 (a) and 5 (b) do not apply, wherein the plaintiff resides.
6. In actions against a fiduciary as defined in § 8.01-2 appointed under court authority, the county or city wherein such fiduciary qualified;
7. In actions for improper message transmission or misdelivery wherein the message was transmitted or delivered or wherein the message was accepted for delivery or was misdelivered;
8. In actions arising based on delivery of goods, wherein the goods were received;
9. If there is no other forum available in subdivisions 1 through 8 of this category, then the county or city where the defendant has property or debts owing to him subject to seizure by any civil process; or
10. Wherein any of the plaintiffs reside if (i) all of the defendants are unknown or are nonresidents of the Commonwealth or if (ii) there is no other forum available under any other provisions of § 8.01-261 or this section.
§ 8.01-262.1. Place for bringing action under a contract related to construction.
A. Where a party whose principal place of business is in the Commonwealth enters into a contract on or after July 1, 1997, to design, manage construction of, construct, alter, repair, maintain, move, demolish, or excavate, or supply goods, equipment, or materials for the construction, alteration, repair, maintenance, movement, demolition, or excavation of a building, structure, appurtenance, road, bridge, or tunnel which is physically located in the Commonwealth, any cause of action arising under such contract may be brought in the jurisdiction where the construction project is located, or such other jurisdiction where the venue is proper under the provisions of this chapter. Any provision in the contract mandating that such action be brought in a location outside the Commonwealth shall be unenforceable.
B. The forum for any arbitration proceedings required in such a contract entered into on or after July 1, 1991, shall be in this Commonwealth. If the contract provides for arbitration proceedings outside the Commonwealth, such provision is unenforceable and arbitration proceedings shall be in the county or city where the work is to be performed, unless the parties agree to conduct the proceedings elsewhere within the Commonwealth. The enforceability of the remaining provisions of the arbitration agreement and the method of selecting a forum for the conduct of the arbitration proceedings are as provided in this Code, the Federal Arbitration Act, and any applicable rules of arbitration.
§ 8.01-263. Multiple parties.
In actions involving multiple parties, venue shall not be subject to objection:
1. If one or more of the parties is entitled to preferred venue, and such action is commenced in any such forum; provided that in any action where there are one or more residents and one or more nonresidents or parties unknown, venue shall be proper (preferred or permissible, as the case may be) as to at least one resident defendant;
2. In all other cases, if the venue is proper as to any party.
§ 8.01-264. Venue improperly laid; objection.
A. Venue laid in forums other than those designated by this chapter shall be subject to objection, but no action shall be dismissed solely on the basis of venue if there be a forum in the Commonwealth where venue is proper. In actions where venue is subject to objection, the action may nevertheless be tried where it is commenced, and the venue irregularity shall be deemed to have been waived unless the defendant objects to venue by motion filed, as to actions in circuit courts, within twenty-one days after service of process commencing the action, or within the period of any extension of time for filing responsive pleadings fixed by order of the court. As to actions in general district courts, a motion objecting to venue, which may be in the form of a letter or other written communication, shall be filed with or received by the court on or before the day of trial. Waiver by any defendant shall not constitute waiver for any other defendant entitled to object to venue. Such motion shall set forth where the defendant believes venue to be proper, may be in writing, and shall be promptly heard by the court upon reasonable notice by any party. The court shall hear the motion only on the basis of the action as commenced against the original defendant and not on the basis of subsequent joinder or intervention of any other party. If such motion is sustained, the court shall order the venue transferred to a proper forum under the appropriate provisions of §§ 8.01-195.4, 8.01-260, 8.01-261 and 8.01-262 and shall so notify each party.
B. In the event a party defendant whose presence created venue is dismissed after the parties are at issue, then the remaining parties defendant may object to venue within ten days after such dismissal if the remaining defendants can demonstrate that the dismissed defendant was not properly joined or was added as a party defendant for the purpose of creating venue. However, nothing in this section shall impair the right of the court under § 8.01-265 to retain the action for trial on motion of a plaintiff and for good cause shown.
C. The initial pleading, in any action brought in a general district court, shall inform the defendant of his right to object to venue if the action is brought in any forum other than that specified in §§ 8.01-261, 8.01-262, or § 8.01-263. The information to the defendant shall be stated in clear, nontechnical language reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose of this subsection.
D. Where a suit described in subdivision 19 of § 8.01-261 is filed in a venue that is not described therein, the court, on its own motion and upon notice to all parties, may transfer the suit to a venue described in such subdivision provided the transfer is implemented within sixty days after service of process upon all parties.
§ 8.01-265. Change of venue by court.
In addition to the provisions of § 8.01-264 and notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 8.01-195.4, 8.01-260, 8.01-261 and 8.01-262, the court wherein an action is commenced may, upon motion by any party and for good cause shown, (i) dismiss an action brought by a person who is not a resident of the Commonwealth without prejudice under such conditions as the court deems appropriate if the cause of action arose outside of the Commonwealth and if the court determines that a more convenient forum which has jurisdiction over all parties is available in a jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth or (ii) transfer the action to any fair and convenient forum having jurisdiction within the Commonwealth. Such conditions as the court deems appropriate shall include, but not be limited to, a requirement that the defendant agree not to assert the statute of limitations as a defense if the action is brought in a more convenient forum within a time specified by the court. The court, on motion of any party and for good cause shown, may retain the action for trial. Except by agreement of all parties, no action enumerated in Category A, § 8.01-261, shall be transferred to or retained by a forum not enumerated in such category. Good cause shall be deemed to include, but not to be limited to, the agreement of the parties or the avoidance of substantial inconvenience to the parties or the witnesses, or complying with the law of any other state or the United States.
The provisions of (i) of this section shall not apply to causes of action which accrue under § 8.01-249(4).
§ 8.01-266. Costs.
In any action which is transferred or retained for trial pursuant to this chapter, the court in which the action is initially brought may award an amount necessary to compensate a party for such inconvenience, expense, and delay as he may have been caused by the commencement of the suit in a forum to which an objection, pursuant to § 8.01-264, is sustained or by the bringing of a frivolous motion to transfer. In addition, the court may award those attorney’s fees deemed just and reasonable which are occasioned by such commencement of a suit or by such motion to transfer. The awarding of such costs by the transferor court shall not preclude the assessment of costs by the clerk of the transferee court.
§ 8.01-267. Discretion of judge.
Both the decision of the court transferring or refusing to transfer an action under § 8.01-265 and the decision of the court as to amount of costs awarded under § 8.01-266 shall be within the sound discretion of the trial judge. However, nothing herein shall affect the right to assign as error a court’s decision concerning venue.
§ 8.01-257. Venue generally.